Bruce Kirkby has challenged the impossible and continues to do so in his expeditions – from taking on the blistering heat in the desert to challenging the ocean by paddleboard.
He has been a columnist for the Globe and Mail, written ‘Sand Dance’ about his expedition in Arabia’s Southern desert, won awards for his work in photography and hosted the CBC television show No Opportunity Wasted.
But he isn’t interested in the flashy fame and recognition. He cares about what really matters – living life to its fullest and sharing it with friends and family.
“I’ve been in Kimberley for eight years, and one way or another everyone learns about everyone in Kimberley – we end up playing hockey together or gathering wood at the creek together.”
In fact, the author and photographer started by being inspired by local climber Pat Morrow.
“I grew up in Toronto and at a very early age saw Pat Morrow’s book ‘Beyond Everest’ and I just thought, ‘Wow! You can live a life like that?”
And from there, the adventurer has collected all kinds of memories around the world.
“When I am on a physical adventure, my number-one goal is to enjoy it. It’s never to prove something or to try to be a tough guy or do it faster or break a record. I’ve learned that what matters in life are the experiences and enjoying them with friends.”
His latest adventure was paddleboarding for 100 kilometres with friend and Olympic gold-medalist Duff Gibson, practicing every day beforehand, having never been on a paddleboard.
“Last weekend, after those two months, I did the 100K day with Duff. We started at 4 a.m. and we paddled until 10 p.m. without a break basically and we just got 100K in the daylight.”
After the accomplishment Kirkby decided to create his own challenge on June 13 from Jericho Beach to Victoria Harbour, 150 kilometres in four days, with friend Dave Quinn.
With regards to his motivation, Kirkby calls on the old proverb: a thousand-mile journey starts with one step. He says that the two most important aspects to remember are starting now, and letting fear be a compass.
“Fear is important. We learn to move away from it. But move towards it because it’s basically where your growth lies,” said Kirkby. “If you think of something, start it now.”
Kirkby explains that through taking on the impossible challenges, people are able to grow. Accomplishing tasks and remembering the joy they brought you and always having something to work towards is what life is all about.
“So all these stories are really meant to engage and remind people what a beautiful planet we live on, how blessed we are in Canada and how precious life is. We seem to get reminded of that in times of tragedy but we should remember it every day.”
Yet the adventurer is more impressed with the ‘small victories’ of those who take on challenges in their own lives.
He explains that challenges aren’t just grandiose expeditions but the ‘impossibilities’ in your own life – from recovering from injury or illness to helping others in your community – matter more than we think.
“Those stories matter. I think that they matter more than someone who went and rode their camel across the desert.”